tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN November 19, 2013 2:59pm-3:30pm EST
no one can question the commitment of either of you. i remember firsthand secretary clinton when you were first lady at the end of the '90s calling the world's attention to the abuses the taliban were perpetrating and how critical the afghan women were. and i remember so well, mrs. bush, when the military engagement called by your husband after 911 and you took the role of the radio address and told the world that the role of afghan women would be important to building their country. so you've heard a lot this morning. we're at a crossroads. the women have made enormous progress. they are very worried their progress may be reversed. there are important events ahead.
the elections in april for president as well as a negotiated settlement, the reconciliation process. we still don't know where that will go. but to say that the women are concerned is an understatement. they fear they may be a bargaining chip in that unnegotiated process with the taliban. so what do we say particular ply in the backdrop of a united states that's war weary, where we're focused on our many challenges at home, what can we do to ensure this progress is not reversed. and as secretary kerry said, this strategic necessity the women represent to a better prosperous, peaceful, stable afghanistan is realized. and both of you, i know, have a great deal to say on this subject. >> well, even as our troops drawdown, start to drawdown,
there's still many, many groups on the ground in afghanistan. it gives us a chance now, all americans, really, the chance to support those groups, to find the groups. the doctor is here, opus prize winner to promote her schools and women all over afghanistan. leslie schweitzer, fundraiser for university of afghanistan. i think maybe we may get some questions out of afghanistan from american university. you can give directly to the american university of afghanistan to make sure girls have scholarships there. so i think as our troops leave, it's very, very important that we continue to support all the programs that were built over the last 10 years in afghanistan, including many that came from this very council, the u.s. afghan women's council, and to work with our own congressmen
and women to make sure afghanistan stays in the forefront, that people do pay attention to it. it's going to be -- once our troops leave, the eyes of the united states will move away. we can't let that happen. it just is so, so important. what's important are those lives in afghanistan, the people that have changed. we need to make sure they don't think we've shifted our attention as well as our troops. [ applause ] >> i agree completely with laura's comments. i also want to bring into the conversation our international partners. we have, as i said, a number of diplomats. we also have minister of norway, minister brenda, welcome. norway has been a great partner
on behalf of the development and human rights of the people of afghanistan with particular attention on afghan women. so in addition to what we ask all of us to continue doing to support the projects and the people who are on the front lines literally of continuing the progress that has been made in afghanistan, we want to closely coordinate with our friends around the world who also have made great investments and stand ready to continue to support that progress. i was very pleased with secretary kerry's remarks that perhaps we're close to bilateral security agreement. the number one issue on the minds of afghan women with us here today is how they can continue their work if they don't have security. how can they continue to protect the girls that go to their schools? how can they continue to keep open the shelters for victims of
domestic violence? how can they continue to encourage other women to take leadership positions in either the government or the private sector. so this is a very real worry. i think we have to work with our own government, both the obama administration and secretary kerry and the other leaders of the administration as well as members of congress to keep this issue on the forefront and then to coordinate, as we withdraw with our coalition partners as well. i think, too, as milan has pioneered in this work of peace and security, we have to continue to make the case to the leadership of afghanistan that all of the sacrifice and the decades of war and conflict that have ravaged their country could
be for naught if we don't have a unified consensus about what must happen going forward. security is key. so are the elections that we just heard reference to. those elections will determine whether there can be a peaceful transition of power that is validated in a fair and transparent manner by the people of afghanistan. so when we look at secretary kerry's formulation the security, the political and economic transitional challenges facing us, we need to be committed on all three front in support of those women and men who realize that afghanistan is so strategy located, has so many opportunities to be at the real center of what happens in south and central asia, but that will
all dissipate if there's not a commitment to ensuring that half the population gets a chance to fully participate. so i think we have our work cut out for us, to support these women who are here with us today to make sure that they continue to be given the attention and resources that they so richly deserve. >> just as we have the women here with us in gadsden hall, there are a group of women gathered at american university in afghanistan, kabul. they can hear us, they can see us. they have sent in advance a few questions they wanted to ask to women whom they are immensely grateful for all they have done for them. you can see from this question their minds are very much on the future and what's going to
happen. one question is how can we encourage development investments and preserve those that have the -- [ laughter ] >> -- after 2014. >> go ahead. >> we all know a great deal of investing has been done in afghanistan. we want to ensure those are preserved. they want to know does it all end in 2014 or does this commitment continue? >> well, i know the commitment of the u.s. afghan women's council and the women here who have founded programs across afghanistan, they want to continue. they will continue. i hope there will also be, obviously, u.s. government participation as well. i think that's really important and the international community
as well spent a lot of money. i hope they will continue a lot of the programs they have started. i also want to encourage personal the students at american university afghanistan. after i heard anita and her talk, i think it's very important for young people in afghanistan to really start a youth movement, to get the word out before the elections about how important it is to vote and how important it is for all young people, boys and girls, young men and young women, to be involved in the future of their country. they can let older people know, as anita said, it's important they live in a secure and safe country, that they have a chance to build the kind of prosperous stable afghanistan they want. so i want to encourage all the students at american university in afghanistan to develop a strategy of public relations that you can use just like you all did to protest harassment in
the street, that you can use to encourage people to vote, to make sure afghanistan has free and fair elections so that afghanistan really does show the rest of the world that they can build the country they want to have. i know that's what the young people want. >> i think that's a real opportunity. we were talking earlier in the council meeting that we need some kind of internet outreach, some kind of movement, a virtual movement to support the courageous stands young people in afghanistan are making. also to try to enlist support of young people around the world to make sure your voices are heard. even do some crowd funding on behalf of some of the projects that are so important.
with respect to the development aid, we held an international meeting in tokyo in 2012. and it was a very successful pledging meeting. countries that had troops there were there as well as countries that had no military troops but had sent both development experts and resources. and the decision was made that that community representing a great number of nations wanted to continue to support the development of afghanistan in a variety of areas. but they did want to make sure there was transparency, that there was an effort to limit, if not avoid corruption. that there was a need for the government to be more open to taking advice and expertise so that they could be better
organized to deliver services to the afghan people. i think that is the shorthand attitude of the international community represented by governments and aid agencies. i think that's important, because we do want to make sure that any aid that comes in is actually delivered to people who are doing the frontline work. i think, however, it would be a mistake for private funders, for ngos not to continue to try to fund people who are making a difference. how we do that is a subject we will be discussing further. even though governments may decide whatever standards they set are not being met, we would urge governments to not give up too easily despite all the budget problems governments everywhere are facing.
we would urge the private ngo civil society community that has been so helpful in many areas of afghanistan not to give up either. so i think milan and our students at the american university, we're going to have to be very determined to continue working together and encorneling the transfer of resource to those who have demonstrated a track record about being able to use them effectively to get results. we can't give up. i think you both are right. as our troops come home, there will be an understandable, totally human response in our country like, okay, fine. we spent all this money. we lost all these brave men and women. we ran into a lot of problems. we're proud of what we accomplished but we can't continue at that rate.
we have to be prepared to make the case as to why we don't have a choice but to continue in some form and fashion what has worked. i think that will fall to people like us to try to make that argument to the congress and to the american public. [ applause ] >> no surprise that security as you've heard over and over is also on the minds of the students you just saw at the university. another question they have raised is how can they possibly raise awareness and preserve women's rights in the absence of security? >> well, it's very hard. lets be honest. it would be extremely hard. security is the paramount issue. both security in and of itself, the physical well-being of
people but also for the work that is being done. i would like to just make a few quick points on this. i consider president karzai a friend. i have worked with him every since i was a senator. we've had many long conversations over the past 12 years. i know how passionate he is about afghan's sovereignty and unity and i admire that and agree as the president of the country he must stand firm for the people of afghanistan. but i hope he'll reach with the united states an agreement on a bilateral security agreement. the sticking point is one we have scene before. namely when the united states sends our young men and women to
continue to provide security. and in this case to continue to train and mentor afghan men and women police in providing security for their own people, it is an absolute requirement that our troops be given immunity from local arrest and prosecution. that is what we have in japan, in korea, in germany. anywhere in the world where you still see american troops, that is the requirement. i understand president karzai's sensitivity to this, but i would want to ask you to remember that we could not reach an agreement in iraq, and iraq is descending into a cycle of terrible violence. it's not that wkd have stayed or how long restayed, we didn't
have a chance to test it. the maliki president said we can't give immunities like we did those in the gulf in neighboring countries. this is a big decision for afghan government. if you enter into the bilateral security agreement, it doesn't mean the united states will be there in great numbers. it means we will be available to help security forces of afghanistan, to protect against the continuing attacks from not only the afghan taliban but other terrorist groups across the border. so that's the decision that has to be made. i know it's a difficult decision. i'm not in any way implying it isn't. if it's signed we have a chance to look seriously at what we and our continuing partners in providing security can offer. if it is not signed, which means when the american troops and
nato and international coalition leave, the afghans are left totally to themselves. we have a set of very serious challenges that will be difficult for us to help with. so this has to be thought through carefully. security is paramount. if you cannot provide security for people, a lot of the other good results you're hoping for simply cannot happen. so i think these next two weeks when it comes to security will be especially important. we won't know what we can do and how we can respond to the women's request for support on security until we get an answer. >> obviously no country can function in a successful way without both security and rule of law. that comes from within the country as well as in this case the presence of our troops in afghanistan.
so that's one of the things afghanis need to work on, people of afghanistan, they need to make sure they build civic institutions they need to support a democracy. and they get the word out. i do think young people like anita will make an effort to get the word out across the country. that we can succeed, afghanistan can succeed if we build our own security in a way, our own rule of law in a way that people respect and pay attention to. >> secretary clinton we have a question from a georgetown graduate student, amanda. she has a question about the u.s. national action plan on women's peace and security which you launched here at georgetown. she asks, the plan calls for incorporating women's efforts into the range of u.s. work and development, diplomacy and
defense. what does this mean for afghanistan? >> well, amanda i think it means that we have to do all we can to make the case and support the efforts of those with whom we are working to ensure that women's voices are heard in the areas that you mentioned. that we have to stand firmly for women's rights to participate fully in afghan society. that we have to continue to find ways to support the education of women, the entrepreneurship of women, the political careers of women so that there can be these role models we saw in the video and we saw on stage that can encourage women and men to see a
vision of afghanistan that truly can move it to a new stage of its great and storied history. in doing the national action plan, and i'll give a plug to the national defense university which will be publishing essays by experts, military experts, intelligence talking about the difference involving women makes. it's not something laura and milan and i are saying it would be really nice if you did this. we know it works. we know in the absence of women being at peace tables, being in negotiations, representing their views, it is less likely to succeed in terms of ending conflicts and providing security. you know, just one quick example, which is one of my favorites, is liberia, a place both laura and i have been to and so strongly admire ellen
johnson. we would have never ended the horrible conflict in liberia if it had not been for the women of liber liberia. they said they had enough. christian and muslim women alike joined together to make it clear to the men who were negotiating the peace agreement, which they had tried to negotiate i think seven or eight times before, they were not going home. in fact they barred the doors and boarded the windows so the men could not escape until they could reach an agreement. one of my favorite daumtryes, "pray the devil back to hell. women stood up and said we're the ones who are most at risk. it is our children who are being savagely abused or killed. we cannot stand for this any longer. so as the institute at georgetown does its work, the
national defense university integrates into the curriculum what it means to stand up for women in peace and security, we will learn these lessons and be able to work with our friends and colleagues in afghanistan and to make the case over and over again that peace agreements don't last if they don't represent the entire community. you can't do that without having women's voices and participation. [ applause ] >> mrs. bush, you have made this issue a priority issue at the bush institute. you've focused on a range of investments in afghan women. economic participation is one of those most significant. tell us a little bit about why -- why does economic
participation and the ability of women to do their work enable them to be more secure in an insecure environment and also to create stability in our country? >> one of the really important reasons, of course, if you leave half of the population out of the economy, then you're not going to have a very successful economy. so when women are included in economic life, and actually afghan women especially seem especially entrepreneurial. i've heard lots of great stories. the woman who started the furniture business early on right after the taliban left kabul and became so successful as a furniture builder and furniture salesman that three men cobblers came to her and said would you help us build a shoe company. she said, no, but my daughter is available to help you. i'll give awe loan to start but
you're going to have to pay me back. so now her daughter is in the shoe making business with three men, three cobblers who wanted her help in being able to build a business. all of that is really important. afghan women are working right now in lots of different businesses all across afghanistan. it's very important to the economy of afghanistan. but afghanistan also stands at a point if they can stay stable and secure to be able to develop a lot of their resources that they have. i want to encourage you, and this is something i'd like to do through the bush institute, that is to be a convener with people of afghanistan and corporations, united states corporations to help develop what you all have in afghanistan. but not develop it for export.
develop it so you and the people of afghanistan can learn the skills to build whatever it is you have at home so that both people are employed at home and you make not just what you would make by selling your resources, but you would make what you made by selling your resources turned into the products you build yourself. you can build your economy in a great way. i really think once men are employed also, and young men are employed across afghanistan, there's going to be a lot less -- a lot fewer young men who will want to join the taliban, but instead will want to work to build safe lives for themselves, safe and prosperous lives. i think education and employment are the two keys. of course we know those are the keys in our country as well.
>> i hate to end this conversation but the clock is ticking. i don't want us to leave until we can ask one more question. that is, it's a continuation of some of what you've both said. this room is filled with policymakers, ngo leaders, business leaders, extraordinary students, something i've discovered over the last few months coming back to my alma mater, young men and women with great talent as well as faculty and administrators who care. what can we do? we've heard a lot already. we'll hear a little more. what can each of us do to advance this agenda to ensure the kinds of investments made by the united states and the international community over the last decade plus endure and don't push everything back? >> well, i would say first just
keep talking about it. i'm so worried once our troops leave no one will pay attention again to afghanistan. we just can't take that risk. we don't want the people of afghanistan to think that because our troops are leaving they no longer matter to us, because they do matter. the relationships and the friendships we've built especially with afghan women and through the u.s. afghan women's council and through many, many opportunities that we've had to meet really do matter to us. i want the people of afghanistan to know that the people of the united states do support them and are with them. i remember at a conference that we had shortly after we moved back to dallas, that the bush institute hosted, the opus prize winner was there. she said, listen, don't feel sorry for us, just be with us.
that's what we need to do. we need to just stay with them, and we will. >> besides saying amen, i would love to have georgetown students talk with one another about what you can do in solidarity with the young people of afghanistan. as anita reminded us, the population of young people is 60%, a very high percentage. what can you do to support them through virtual contacts, through raising money, through exchange programs, anything that can keep the lines of communication and relationship building going. this university is making a very
significant contribution to the future debate through the institute on peace and security and through other academic and profit programs that you have. the more we can link up our university communities on some of these specific issues in support, for example, of the american university in kabul, looking for ways to do much more in terms of exchanges that can be partnered with the bush institute or other institutions, those are life lines. those make a tremendous difference in validating the work being done and lifting up examples. i think it's important to tell the story to our fellow americans about what has been accomplished, because there's a sense, you know, what did we